Those recovering from substance abuse help create better recovery programs in rural Wisconsin

Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 9:27 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - People with personal experience in substance use are using their challenges and experiences to help others by teaming up with the Central Wisconsin Partnership for Recovery.

Maribeth Crawford of Wood county told WEAU,

“For twenty years of my life I was personally challenged with substance use. I’ve been incarcerated, institutionalized, homeless on multiple occasions, I have been hospitalized... many times,”

Crawford had a long road to recovery from substance use. Since then she became a recovery coach, and contributed her time volunteering in various ways to support her peers. Earlier this year she was approached with yet another opportunity to continue that work.

“I was super excited. Somebody wanted to know my lived experience with substance abuse and recovery. it was the first time that myself and others felt like we actually had a voice,” Crawford said.

Danielle Luther, project manager for the Marshfield Family Health Center says incorporating the voices of those who understand the challenges, has been a valuable learning experience.

“Our goal offering these focus groups is to help us partner and to work with those who are directly affected, those who have the experience so we can drill down into what our local conditions are and what is helping people who are successful in their recovery continue on that path,” said Luther.

Following multiple meetings, this month, virtually, four goals have been identified:

- youth prevention in the use of school resource officers

- care and assistance after incarceration

- safe and sober housing opportunities

- peer support services

“I don’t think you have as many services on hand, first off in the rural communities, I don’t think that rural communities think that its a problem, most anyways I don’t think we did here even five years ago,” said Crawford.

One specific example she gave? A lack of transportation.

“In bigger cities you have that public transportation, and in smaller cities you don’t have that to get to services. There’s not as many services to begin with.”

“Prevention is underfunded and under valued. when you’re transitioning back into the community whether it’s you’re coming from treatment or coming from incarceration there really is a lack of supportive services,” said Luther.

CWPR does plan to continue these conversations to reduce stigma and strengthen support for those recovering. Goals include adding another school resource officer in Clark County, and adjusting school curriculum. In Wood County, a jail discharge planner may be piloted, as well as creating safe and sober housing options.

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